Thursday, December 18, 2014

Students' Final Reflections

As is appropriate, the students should have the final word on their experiences in Paris this past semester, as they reflect on what their time abroad has meant to them …

From Andrea:  Living in Paris was by far the most amazing experience I've had.  It enabled me to grow as a person and to meet the most amazing group of girls.  I have been blessed to be in this program and I am truly thankful to F&M as well as Professor Mitchell for making this possible!

From Annie:  The F&M in Paris program was the best experience, full of great food and great people in the best city! 

From Caroline:  I love the artistic lifestyle in Paris when walking in the rain and talking to artists in galleries, and recalling the scenes and architecture in Victor Hugo's novels.  Life is so fun when I can easily travel in Europe, enjoy nostalgic afternoons in Hemingway's cafés, and go to marvellous performances and museums.  Learning about French culture and history in class also helped me to adapt to French life.   I hope that I still have time to ride bikes in Paris like people did in Le Tour de France! 

From Hannah:  F&M in Paris has been one of the most transformative experiences I have had, and I know it will continue to influence me for years.  Despite, or rather because of, challenges I faced here, I have grown in ways that would have been impossible had I spent the semester any other way.

From Kianna:  I had the opportunity to live out my dream, and being in Paris I have learned things that I will always remember forever.  I will never forget the places I have visited and the people I met.  This experience has allowed me to become more responsible, independent, and above all it allowed me to grow as a person.

From Meredith:  Living in Paris was such a great experience!  I have learned so much about myself and have enjoyed every moment here!  I have made so many great friends and memories that will stay with me forever!

From Renee:  It is an interesting experience that, on the very first day you spoke no French and communicated with hand gestures and body language, but by the end of the program, you realize you can understand every single word that your host family says.  This program is awesome, not only because it's in Paris, but also because I now know how independent I can be.

From Tessla:  F&M in Paris was a wonderful experience.  I am so happy I applied as a third-year student.  I met and appreciate my classmates and Professor Mitchell, who made my experience in Paris so enjoyable and intellectual.  I give them my thanks.  Being in Paris has made me a better person, more independent, responsible, wiser, and mature.  Walking along the Seine River or by the Eiffel Tower always makes me reflect about my life and my future: what I've become and what kind of person I want to become.  Thanks to F&M in Paris program, my classmates who are now my friends, Professor Mitchell who has been wonderful, and Paris, I will remain here for another semester and will definitely come back in the future.  Thank you!! 

Director's Adieu

I would like to thank many people for helping to make the F&M in Paris program a success this past semester.  First and foremost, I want to express my gratitude to and admiration for the eight extraordinary young women with whom I shared this past semester in Paris.  Their intellectual curiosity, hard work, and openness to new experiences and challenges made them a true pleasure to teach.  I am proud of all they accomplished and learned during their time here.  As a group, they were generous in spirit and in deed, as demonstrated on the last day of class when they surprised me with beautiful roses and the very special treat of macarons from the famous Lenôtre bakery.  Merci beaucoup à tous!

I would also like to thank the staff at ACCENT, in particular Jim Benn, for providing us invaluable logistical and practical support throughout the semester.  At Franklin & Marshall College, Vice President for Planning and Vice Provost Alan Caniglia played an instrumental role in making the program run, as did Associate Dean for International Program Sue Mennicke, who offered wise counsel on many an occasion.  In the Provost's Office, Mary Sakellaris provided crucial support in keeping our paperwork straight.  I am indebted to Assistant Professor of French Carrie Landfried for proposing and coordinating our collaboration with her Connections class on campus.  Members of the Chemistry, Government, and French Departments, especially Cindy Yetter-Vassot, generously facilitated recruitment for the program, for which I remain grateful.  None of this would have been possible, of course, without Professor Kerry Whiteside, who founded and directed the program beginning in 2006.  The students and I were all beneficiaries of his willingness to share insights, experiences, and expertise.  Kerry, nous le remercions beaucoup!

Last but not least, I would like to thank our many blog readers.  When F&M's Director of Instructional and Emerging Technologies Teb Locke patiently introduced me to the world of blogging, for which I thank him, I had no idea that our blog would be so widely read.  We now have over 3000 hits and, as I like to tell the students, those cannot all be me checking for typographical errors.  It has been a privilege to share our adventures with you.  To the parents, you have sent us wonderful young women whose lives have been broadened and enriched by their experiences here, none of which would have been possible without your encouragement and support.  To our friends and colleagues, thank you for keeping up with us as we discovered Paris and, in the process, important new things about ourselves.

Encore merci à tout le monde et adieu!

Maria Mitchell

Saying Au Revoir ~ Bye Bye, Paris!

Today was our last class and last day together as a group.  We gathered at ACCENT to review what we've learned and to enjoy a goodbye party.  

After indulging in French treats, we opened end-of-semester gifts.  Because these came from Professor Mitchell, they were – not surprisingly – books!

Last but not least, we played a board game designed just for us.  Each team had a Métro pass marker to advance after correctly answering questions based on what we've learned this semester.  Landing on some spots (Overslept, back three!  Forgot to Charge Cellphone, back one!) meant moving backwards, whereas other spots (Worked in the American Library in Paris All Day, move up three!  Lire Journal Français, move up one!) meant jumping ahead. Sites included the Picasso Museum, the Louvre, Montmartre, Rue de Rivoli, and the Rodin Museum but also favorite eateries (Jardin Continis, the Algerian bakery, the fondue restaurant, and crêperies) as well as group trips (Chartres, Versailles, Mont St-Michel, St Malo, Normandy, Giverny, and Fontainebleau).

All four teams made great progress toward the finish line of ACCENT after answering questions such as …  

Who led the liberation of Paris?  When was Algeria granted independence?  Who was the President of France before François Hollande?  The hardest fought battle of Normandy took place on which beach?  Who was defeated in 1954 at Dien Bien Phu?  When did France first use the Euro?  Which country declared its national unity in the Hall of Mirrors?  What happened on July 14, 1789?  When did the Fifth Republic begin?  When did the three cafeterias of the House of Representatives officially change the name of French fries to freedom fries?  Who led the French resistance against the Nazis from abroad?  

We were all sad to say goodbye -- to each other, to ACCENT, and to Paris.  Au Revoir!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Final Research Projects

In our course on French history and politics, each student has been pursuing an independent research project across the semester.  We have proceeded from topic sheets to bibliographies and outlines, topic presentations to the class, and rough drafts.  Over the past week, each student student has been presenting her concluding findings to the class.  The final papers are due tomorrow, our last day of class!

Andrea is writing on the history of fashion in the 1920s, a pivotal decade in European women's history and the history of haute couture, as women's attire and appearance changed to reflect the dramatic social and economic changes catalyzed by World War I.

Annie's project treats the controversial modernization of the Louvre after I.M. Pei's glass pyramid heralded a new era of marketing and business for the world's oldest public art museum.

Caroline is investigating the impact of French state policy on female participation in the economic sphere, specifically the effects of pronatalist policies such as child stipends and paid maternity leave on French women's status in the business world.

Hannah's paper explores the background and impact of the Elysée treaty signed in 1963 by Charles de Gaulle, President of France, and Konrad Adenauer, Chancellor of West Germany, charting a now fifty-plus-year history of Franco-German cooperation.

Kianna's work concerns the weeks of violence in November 2005 in over 250 French towns enacted primarily by suburban teenagers following the deaths of two young men of Malian and Tunisian ancestry, who were fleeing the police in Clichy-sous-Bois, outside Paris. 

Meredith's essay focuses on the Vichy regime, which collaborated with Nazi Germany, and French participation in the Holocaust.  She looks in particular at the imprisonment of Jews in Paris in the Vél d'Hiv before deportation to the Drancy concentration camp and, ultimately, death camps in Poland.

Renee's interest in French food led her to Antonin Carême, the first "celebrity chef," credited with having created modern French cuisine at the turn of the nineteenth century.  Carême was especially famous for his elaborate pastry creations that he produced for royals across Europe.

Tessla's paper explains the significance of the French bombing of the Greenpeace ship, the Rainbow Warrior, in 1985 as the ship sat in a New Zealand harbor before intending to sail to Moruroa to protest French nuclear testing.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Gala Dinner

It's hard to believe, but F&M in Paris has just one week left!  Classes end this Thursday and home stays on Saturday.  To celebrate our shared adventure, we capped off our Thursday night group dinners with a special meal at Le Court Bouillon in the 15th arrondissement. Accompanied by local gourmet and program friend Edouard, who offered valuable information on French cuisine, we recounted the highlights of our stay, including our favorite things about Paris and our best travels outside France.  The dinners were delicious and the desserts extraordinary.  It was a fitting finale to our stay in a country whose cuisine has been recognized by UNESCO as a "world intangible heritage."

Final Group Projects on Franco-American Debates

We blogged in November about the group projects for our HIS/IST class on topics widely seen as dividing the United States and France.  Over the past two weeks, student pairs have presented debates on questions ranging from gun control to immigration, feminism, and business.  Each pair staged an exchange, framed within the context of French and American history and politics, between a French and American woman.  The pairs then facilitated the class' continued discussion based on the information presented.

Caroline and Hannah presented two women riding the Métro who fell into conversation after one noticed the other reading an article on immigration.

Renee and Tessla organized a panel at an international women's studies conference on different theoretical and practical approaches to feminism in France and the United States.

Kianna and Meredith orchestrated a pre-breakfast exchange between an American host mother and her French exchange student over gun culture and control in the two countries. (We all laughed when the American host mother began by asking the French exchange student to put out her cigarette and the French exchange student requested a cappuccino or espresso.)

Andrea and Annie explored the different business cultures and practices manifest in France and the United States through a meeting between an American high-level executive and a French applicant for a position with J.P. Morgan.